Duncan Black: David Ignatius Smackdown
Liveblogging World War II: September 17, 1943

Fascist, Authoritarian, Imperial...: Tuesday Hoisted from the Non-Internet from 80 Years Ago Weblogging

Ludwig von Mises:

The Argument of Fascism: Only when the Marxist Social Democrats had gained the upper hand... did the last concessions [to liberalism] disappear.... The parties of the Third International consider any means as permissible.... [T]hey do not hesitate to exterminate [any opponent] and his whole family, infants included, whenever and wherever it is physically possible.... All at once the scales fell from the eyes of the non-Communist enemies of liberalism.... Revolutionary ideas had been able to take root and flourish only because of the tolerance they had been accorded by their opponents, whose will power had been enfeebled by a regard for liberal principles that, as events subsequently proved, was overscrupulous....

The fundamental idea of these [Fascist] movements... consists in the proposal to make use of the same unscrupulous methods in the struggle against the Third International as the latter employs against its opponents. The Third International seeks to exterminate its adversaries.... The Fascists, at least in principle, profess the same intentions... [but] have... a certain regard for liberal notions and ideas and traditional ethical precepts.... Only under the fresh impression of the murders and atrocities perpetrated by the supporters of the Soviets were Germans and Italians able to block out the remembrance of the traditional restraints of justice and morality and find the impulse to bloody counteraction. The deeds of the Fascists and of other parties corresponding to them were emotional reflex actions evoked by indignation at the deeds of the Bolsheviks and Communists....

[O]ne must not fail to recognize that the conversion of the Rightist parties to the tactics of Fascism shows that the battle against liberalism has resulted in successes that, only a short time ago, would have been considered completely unthinkable.... Against the weapons of the Bolsheviks, weapons must be used in reprisal, and it would be a mistake to display weakness before murderers. No liberal has ever called this into question.... [But i]n a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails. Fascism can triumph today because universal indignation at the infamies committed by the socialists and communists has obtained for it the sympathies of wide circles. But when the fresh impression of the crimes of the Bolsheviks has paled, the socialist program will once again exercise its power of attraction on the masses. For Fascism does nothing to combat it except to suppress socialist ideas and to persecute the people who spread them. If it wanted really to combat socialism, it would have to oppose it with ideas. There is, however, only one idea that can be effectively opposed to socialism, viz., that of liberalism....

It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error...

Note that when von Mises says "liberalim" what he has in mind is close to the anotnym of "democracy."

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